Photo exhibit opens people’s eyes on ‘Yolanda’ problem

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Tindog People's Network volunteers Senen Buban, Jr. (second from left) and Aldrein Silanga (third from left) with Yolanda survivors

PARAÑAQUE City, March 13, 2014—In response to what they see as the PH government’s inaction on the Yolanda rehabilitation issue, a church-backed non-government organization (NGO) is raising public awareness on what is really happening in areas devastated by the super typhoon through a photo exhibit it is organizing in the churches of Metro Manila. 

In an interview, volunteer Aldrein Silanga of the NGO Tindog People’s Network told the CBCPNews that they are mounting the photo exhibit to educate the Filipino public on the present situation of Yolanda survivors. 

He stressed that even four months after Yolanda’s onslaught, thousands of Warays are still “homeless and starving”. 

On display at the mini exhibit are photographs of the Warays of Samar and Leyte struggling to get by in life after they lost everything to what turned to be “history’s most destructive typhoon”. 

The exhibit was made possible through the cooperation of People Surge, a Tacloban-based NGO that helps Yolanda survivors, which loaned the photos, and the National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help [Redemptorist Church] Social Mission office which provides the venue. 

In between Masses at the Redemptorist Church, a Yolanda survivor would be given about five minutes to speak before the assembled devotees and share with them their firsthand experience of Yolanda, and how they are coping months after the deluge. 

On January 25, nearly 13,700 Yolanda survivors representing the different provinces of Eastern Visayas took to the streets of Tacloban to demand from the government the assistance it promises, Silanga said. 

Failing at this, on February, the 100th day of Yolanda, supporters marched to Malacañang to personally hand over to President Benigno S. Aquino III (PNoy) a petition signed by 17,585 typhoon survivors.

The petition lists down three demands: First, that the PNoy government should honor the P40,000 cash relief which covers two months’ worth of food, transportation, and other contingent expenses for each Yolanda-affected family; second, to junk the “No Build Zone” policy which only puts a toll on the survivors; and lastly, to continue the relief efforts until the survivors are stable enough to get on their feet. 

“Isinasagawa namin itong exhibit upang kalampagin ang tao at ang gobyerno sa tunay na nangyayari sa Eastern Visayas… Paraan din namin ito para maipakalat ang mga impormasyon hinggil sa mga Yolanda survivors sa kabila ng nangyayaring media blockage,” [We are holding this exhibit to alert the ordinary people and those in power on what actually transpires in Eastern Visayas…This is also our way to disseminate information on the fate of Yolanda survivors despite the media blockage,”] Silanga explained in Filipino. 

Many of the survivors who had left the affected regions currently live in temporary shelters in various Metro Manila cities unsure of what the government has in store for them. 

In spite of this, they still look forward to returning to their hometowns and build their lives from scratch. 

The more fortunate survivors had been taken in by relatives, friends, fellow Warays, and even charitable strangers, and have decided to stay here for good.

They reason that they have nowhere else to go. 

Director Senen Buban, Jr. of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, an NGO that also assists survivors, questioned what stops the Aquino government from fulfilling its mandated duties. 

Buban lambasted PNoy for his incapability to efficiently respond to the survivors’ needs. 

Besides the exhibit, the allied NGOs will also be conducting forums nationwide. (Raymond A. Sebastián)

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